I love riding the trains and subways in Japanland, because there’s never a shortage of entertainment. Especially during the last train home on the weekend. It’s a little like that Disneyland ride “The Pirate’s of the Caribbean,” in that everywhere you look, there are loud, disheveled, drunk men singing, stumbling around and in the case of last night, projectile vomiting.
I don’t know if it’s because Tokyo men drink to the point of being puke/pass-out/sloppy drunk more often than men in other cities I’ve lived in, but I swear, I’ve seen more people throwing up in public places in my last six months in Japan, than I have in all my years in college.
Take last night, for example. A drunk teenager threw up all over the man sitting next to him. This turned out to be a big mistake because the man (middle-aged, wearing a suit) then (in a decidedly un-Japanese fashion) retaliated by kicking and punching the drunk teenager. It was bizarre because no one said a word while this was occurring. Not the Suit or the Drunk or the other passengers who stood there staring but pretending not to. I felt like I was watching a Jackie Chan movie with the sound turned off or some ancient martial arts silent film.
It was all very twighlight zone, made all the more weird by the fact that I’d had an equally bizarre encounter with a drunk man on a train only hours before.
Said drunk man was wearing sweats and one of those floppy fishermen hats and stood awkwardly jammed up against where I was sitting on the Chuo line express. Having someone stand within a couple of inches of your face, is normal during Tokyo rush hour, when the subways can get scarily crowded. But this wasn’t rush hour and the train was nearly empty…so this guy was being just plain scary.
So I did what is considered normal train etiquette in Japanland and I ignored him and pretended to text on my cell phone. Which only prompted him to start up a casual conversation, as if he weren’t standing so close he was stepping on my toes. And as if we weren’t on a near deserted train filled with dozens of empty seats and a ton of standing room. “Where are you from? Do you speak Japanese?” he asked me in English, in this slow, quiet voice. Creepy.
I then pretended fall asleep, in hopes that he’d get the hint and leave me alone. But then he had to call me out on the fact that I was ignoring him.
“You are not sleeping,” he remarked, leaning into me to me to peer at my face. Well, duh.
After a few minutes of listening to his heavy breathing and attempts at a conversation, I gave up on doing things the ‘Japanese Way’ and opted for the ‘New York way’; I shoved him to the side and headed to another train car.
For anyone who wants to visit Tokyo, I say skip Disneyland. Skip the Tokyo tower. Just ride the Yamanote line around in a circle all day. It’s a helluva lot cheaper and I promise you that you’ll be in for an for an interesting ride.